Synopses & Reviews
"The creation of the United States of America is the greatest of all human adventures," begins Paul Johnson's remarkable new American history. "No other national story holds such tremendous lessons, for the American people themselves and for the rest of mankind." Johnson's history is a reinterpretation of American history from the first settlements to the Clinton administration. It covers every aspect of U.S. history--politics; business and economics; art, literature and science; society and customs; complex traditions and religious beliefs. The story is told in terms of the men and women who shaped and led the nation and the ordinary people who collectively created its unique character. Wherever possible, letters, diaries, and recorded conversations are used to ensure a sense of actuality. "The book has new and often trenchant things to say about every aspect and period of America's past," says Johnson, "and I do not seek, as some historians do, to conceal my opinions."
Johnson's history presents John Winthrop, Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, Cotton Mather, Franklin, Tom Paine, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison from a fresh perspective. It emphasizes the role of religion in American history and how early America was linked to England's history and culture and includes incisive portraits of Andrew Jackson, Chief Justice Marshall, Clay, Lincoln, and Jefferson Davis. Johnson shows how Grover Cleveland and Teddy Roosevelt ushered in the age of big business and industry and how Woodrow Wilson revolutionized the government's role. He offers new views of Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover and of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and his role as commander in chief during World War II. An examination of the unforeseen greatness of Harry Truman and reassessments of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, and Bush follow. "Compulsively readable," said Foreign Affairs of Johnson's unique narrative skills and sharp profiles of people.
This is an in-depth portrait of a great people, from their fragile origins through their struggles for independence and nationhood, their heroic efforts and sacrifices to deal with the `organic sin' of slavery and the preservation of the Union to its explosive economic growth and emergence as a world power and its sole superpower. Johnson discusses such contemporary topics as the politics of racism, education, Vietnam, the power of the press, political correctness, the growth of litigation, and the rising influence of women. He sees Americans as a problem-solving people and the story of America as "essentially one of difficulties being overcome by intelligence and skill, by faith and strength of purpose, by courage and persistence...Looking back on its past, and forward to its future, the auguries are that it will not disappoint humanity."
This challenging narrative and interpretation of American history by the author of many distinguished historical works is sometimes controversial and always provocative. Johnson's views of individuals, events, themes, and issues are original, critical, and admiring, for he is, above all, a strong believer in the history and the destiny of the American people.
“An admirably concise view of a remarkable life whose influence remains central to the foundations of Western thought.”
“[Johnson’s] genuine love of the demos makes him an all-too-rare figure in today’s chattering classes.”
“Spectacular...a delight to read.”
“Johnson writes more concisely than most scholars and brings to his prose a wealth of anecdote and asides unknown to most academics. His Socrates comes alive not through arguments over Platonic dating or Pythagorean influence, but by wit and allusion to Jane Austen novels, Samuel Johnson, John Maynard Keynes, firsthand remembrances of Winston Churchill's speeches and Richard Dawkins. A valuable overview.”
“With effortless erudition, Paul Johnson brings to life the world of the great philosopher.”
“A succinct, useful exploration of life in ancient Athens and of the great philosopher’s essential beliefs.”
“A wonderfully readable account of life in Athens, its political quarrels, and its failures. As good as a murder mystery, Johnson’s narrative is exciting.”
“Enlightening.... Johnson disentangles centuries of scarce and questionable sources to offer a riveting account of a homely but charismatic middle-class man whose ideas still shape the way we decide how to act, and how we fathom the notion of body and soul.”
“Johnson is an accomplished historian and writer with a fluid, unpretentious style and an honest voice. These gifts, which have made his 12 previous books enjoyable and popular, are no less evident in Socrates.”
“This snappy biography goes down easy while offering a full portrait of Socrates—the man, the thinker, the celebrity—and the world he lived in.”
“Delivered in his typically robust, confident manner, this work r
In this bestseller, praised as "a magnificent achievement" ("Wall Street Journal"), the author of "Modern Times" offers a challenging reinterpretation of American history.
A brilliant portrait of the Greek philosopher who personified philosophy.
Socrates was undeniably one of the greatest thinkers of all time, yet he wrote nothing. Throughout his life, and indeed until his very last moment alive, Socrates fully embodied his philosophy in thought and deed. It is through the story of his life that we can fully grasp his powerful actions and ideas.
In his highly acclaimed style, historian Paul Johnson masterfully disentangles centuries of scarce sources to offer a riveting account of a homely but charismatic middle-class man living in Athens in the fifth century B.C., and how what this man thought still shapes the way we decide how to act, and how we fathom the notion of body and soul. Johnson provides a compelling picture of the city and people Socrates reciprocally delighted in, as well as many enlightening and intimate analyses of specific aspects of his personality. Enchantingly portraying "the sheer power of Socrates's mind, and its unique combination of steel, subtlety, and frivolity," Paul Johnson captures the vast and intriguing life of a man who did nothing less than supply the basic apparatus of the human mind.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -1060) and index.
About the Author
Paul Johnson is a leading historian and journalist whose historical works have been translated into many languages. Born into a Roman Catholic family in Lancashire, England, he has remained a practicing Catholic and has covered every papal conclave since the 1950s. Among his books are Modern Times, A History of the Jews, Intellectuals, The Birth of the Modern,
and A History of the English People.
Johnson writes a weekly essay for the Spectator
and is a frequent contributor to The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal
and other newspapers and magazines throughout the world.
He lives in London.